As a server working in food service for the past 5 summers, I’m come to the realization that many people of varying ages and ethnicities do not know the first thing about restaurant etiquette. In particular I mean tipping your server.
The minimum hourly wage of a tipped employee in the state of Pennsylvania is a whopping two dollars and eighty-three cents, according to the United States Department of Labor. Subtract the taxes and well, that’s almost nothing. Almost all of what a server makes comes from the tips that they receive.
Many people complain about having to tip at restaurants. They often ask why the restaurant doesn’t pay its servers minimum wage- between six and eight dollars, depending on the state. It actually makes a lot more sense to tip your server based off their performance. A server is not running around, getting drinks, taking orders, carrying food, or writing checks for the kitchen staff, they’re doing all that for their customers.
The most irritating thing about being a waitress is bending over backwards for a customer, thinking you did a really good job, only to find an awful tip or worse- no tip. This is extremely discouraging and confusing to those servers who did everything they could to make their customer’s dining experience a good one. People may not tip because they are assuming that their server is making tips on top of minimum wage. Restaurants are only required to compensate their employees if their tips and meager “tipped employee” wage does not equal the hourly minimum wage.
Before leaving the restaurant, one must consider a few things before deciding how much they will leave their server. Were they friendly? Did they greet you and effectively explain the menu? Did they answer your questions and make you feel comfortable? Did they deliver your food in a timely fashion? If the answer to these questions yes, then they probably deserve a 15 to 20 percent tip.
Servers are not robots. They are not perfect and sometimes they make mistakes. It is easy to forget that food service is a process and that many people are working together to satisfy the customer. Sometimes there are miscommunications and things go awry. Understand that they have other tables to tend to and that their focus cannot be on you at all times. If anything, remember that they may be the ones cleaning up the mess you made on the table when you leave.
However, a poor tip is acceptable if your server fails to recognize your needs or if they are unpleasant. Even if the service was unacceptable, keep in mind that it is almost never acceptable to throw a temper tantrum in public. Customers who yell and cause a scene can hardly be taken seriously, as they are being rude to not only the staff but to other customers.
If you take anything away from reading this article it’s this next part right here: If you cannot afford to tip your waiter or waitress, you cannot afford to eat at that restaurant. A poor college student myself, I understand why people are so frugal with their money especially in a recession. However, this is no reason to stiff a server who relies on their customers understanding and generosity, or lack-there-of.So the next time you go out to eat, I hope you sit down, order your drink, and consider the logistics of that restaurant and how hard the staff is working to get those chipotle chicken tacos to your table.